I received some crappy grant news several weeks ago. The update that shook me most was a declination of a competitive renewal. During the post mortem with the program manager, I was told that one issue was that the productivity hadn’t been “outstanding enough.” Mind you, on the three-year grant I had one major code release and nine peer-reviewed papers.
What really grates my cheese is that one full year of the three-year period was the fucking pandemic. After all the hand-wringing and expressions of sympathy and understanding from various institutions, including the funding agencies, unsurprisingly, no one actually cares. Yes, please, drop the female PI with two school-aged kids who spent the last 15 months sitting next to one of her kids in the shared office. Who got interrupted a million times each workday during virtual school. Who was expected to extend endless leniency to her graduate students as they battled fear, low motivation, and flare-ups of chronic mental health issues due to the pandemic.
The worst thing is I don’t know if the given reason is real. Maybe I was slated for the hatchet no matter what, likely because (I suspect) a retirement might be happening, but it’s easier to say it’s my fault. Or if it was really my fault, and I should have somehow done more, somehow squeezed out more from myself because I am apparently the only one who’s not supposed to be cut any slack, and can thus be squeezed further. I have to show not just good productivity, but outstanding productivity, even though 1/3 of the grant was during the global pandemic, and screw me for having been affected by it like the loser that I am.
More than anything, I feel deeply ashamed for being a failure. Every time I get a grant rejection I feel like a worthless piece of incompetent shit, and this rejection just slayed me. Of course, I need to keep my chin up and stay cool in front of my group, and this also isn’t something to be shared with colleagues (as one put it the first and only time I brought up grant rejections with him, this is loser talk).
If you’re wondering what I am doing this summer, and this fall, and forever, it’s writing grants. I will always, always write grants, and will get most of them rejected, and will then write more grants, and it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t leave much time to actually do the work that gets funded, as long as I write, endlessly write, until I drop dead or retire, whatever comes first. (Death. Death will come first.)
How’s your summer going, blogosphere?